Himalayan Hideouts – Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand
The Shiwalik Mountains withhold scenic beauty along with a sense of adventure incomparable to any other mountain range. Riding amidst the Garhwal Himalayas has been quite a pleasurable experience. Just next to Garhwal is the Kumaon region, the other part of Uttaranchal? “The Land of Gods”. Sheetal Bidaye turns her wheels onto the road that leads us through the hills and forests of the Kumaon to uncover sparsely used trails and a few more hideouts.
Green hills of Kumaon with Snow Mountains as a backdrop
Many travelers have been to Naukuchiatal, though there is much more for riders to explore beyond the shimmering waters of this lake. The blue lake is fed by an underwater spring maintaining its beauty and glory all year round. Cradled by densely forested hills and serenity, Naukuchiatal forms quite a hideout in the lower Himalayas.
As a part of an old folklore, the king who ruled was said to have had nine wives, each of whom had a reserved corner in the lake where they would go for their daily swim. No one but the king knew of the nine corners and could see all them from a single location. This location was and still is a secret. Till date, many have tried but failed to sight all the nine corners of the lake from a single point.
Spot the corners!
Riders’ Joy: On your way to Naukuchiatal, you will be greeted and welcomed by more than a couple of Hanumans – all of the statues standing tall and strong! Bhimtal, one of the largest lakes in Kumaon, is on your way to Naukuchiatal. Riders could take a short break in a restaurant right in the centre of the lake, which offers panoramic views of the entire region. You will experience an absolutely curvy mountain road spiraling right up to the village of Naukuchiatal.
What you can do there: In a place like Naukuchiatal, there are many activities for the wandering soul and you may be spoilt for choice. Wake up to the chirp of birds and enjoy your breakfast out in the open. Take a stroll around the periphery of the lake, it’s a 3 ½ km leafy nature trail scented with blossoms. Do not forget carrying binoculars with you as Kumaon is a kaleidoscope of colours. Here you find birds in shades of red, blue and green and a large variety of butterflies in every size and colour you could think of apart from Himalayan animals and many species of pretty flowers. The hills here also promise breathtaking views of the ‘Atlas’ butterfly.
Go for jungle trails, nature walks or even boating. Angling is an enjoyable activity in the lake abundant with Mahseer, a kind of carp. Swimming too is a fun activity, yet it is advisable to wear strap-on slippers as the beds of Uttarakhand lakes and rivers are full of pebbles. Also, the depth of this lake hasn’t been measured ever and seems to be very deep, so caution is advisable. The lake does not have a bank large enough for you to camp, yet a small hidden spot where the road curves towards the Lake Resort, can be an ideal picnic spot. Riders who need an adrenaline rush can ride up to Pandegaon for Paragliding over the lake.
For the traveller: Naukuchiatal has a few resorts that are absolutely wonderful. Comfortable cottages and Rest Houses are found in plenty, yet select the one closest to the lake. Food stalls are found near the jetty, yet the food here is not as tempting as the view and its best to enjoy meals at the hotel itself. Dinners can be special if arranged under the starlit sky with the lake in the backdrop.
An evening at Kumaon